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Dexion creates the ultimate fast order pick operation for Boots distribution centre

When the Boots Group, UK’s leading health and beauty retailer, decided to consolidate its retail supply chain and automate its central warehouses, it identified that an alternative solution was required to convert an existing 5,000 square metre section of warehouse space to handle high volume top selling lines. Chosen by Boots on a competitive tender, Dexion, has unequivocally fulfilled its brief by creating the ultimate fast pick operation for Boots top 100 lines.

"We short listed a number of suppliers but chose Dexion for their competitive pricing, design and ability to provide us with a complete turnkey operation", said Dominic Reilly, Project Manager at Boots Group. "They had an excellent knowledge of what was required and supported us throughout the project."

The new facility is open six days a week handling a wide range of goods varying from pallets of nappies to crisps and soft drinks. Goods are put into roll-containers (rocos), with around 2000 rocos being used each day. Because of a need for a very fast picking operation, Dexion has created a technically advanced facility made up of push back racking for storage and pallet live pick lanes located within a pick tunnel. This facility is fully integrated into a new automated complex that suppliers the remaining 75% of average daily volume.

To kick off the project, Dexion’s design team collaborated with Boots in creating a solution for the warehouse that maximised the space available. This comprised of a pick tunnel located below single storey push back storage with pallet live lanes servicing the tunnel. With the design completed and agreed by Boots, work began in turning the building into a fully functional warehouse facility with special emphasis placed on health and safety.

Part of the building was stripped and then smoke-curtains, lighting, sprinklers, smoke detectors, CCTV cameras and in-rack sprinklers installed. With pallets weighing anything from 100kg to 1250kg it was necessary for Dexion to ensure that the racking system could accommodate any pallet weight within this range.

The main racking system has been designed to accommodate 1265 pallets and comprises of a pallet live system using rollers from Interoll and a push back operation above. The overall height of the system is six metres with the pick tunnel having an overall height of 2839mm clear. A single level of full-width roller push back lanes, three or four pallets deep, services the ground floor pallet live system with product for the picking operation.

In addition, Dexion erected two-double entry and two single entry runs of standard pallet racking comprising of 5500mm frames and varying beam lengths, some with mesh shelving panels, to create 448 pallet locations. Both configurations have been designed in order that a standard counterbalance forklift truck can be utilised to store product and low level order pickers used within the pick area.

With health & safety being a major priority for Boots, Dexion provided front angle protection within the pick tunnels as well as mesh to all frame ends.

"Dexion took time to finalise the layout and understand our requirements", concluded Dominic Reilly. "The site management was first class and the installation was carried out on budget, on time and as specified. We are delighted with the project and can honestly say it was a job well done".

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